With its staggering array of remote landscapes untouched by mankind, South America offers truly surreal stargazing.
As dusk falls on this southern continent, prepare to be greeted by a stunning blanket of stars peeking through the dark night sky. Due to minimal light pollution in many areas and the natural beauty of this immense continent, stargazing in South America is the perfect way to end an evening.
Here, we’ve selected five fantastic South American destinations that are now open and may include stunning stargazing experiences as just one of their many attractions.
1. Atacama Desert, Chile
Leading the way, the Atacama Desert is almost unbeatable when it comes to stargazing, attracting astronomy experts from around the world. Being one of the driest places on earth means you experience over 300 cloudless nights every year, so you can be sure to see a mind blowing display above.
By daylight, the Atacama’s red rock canyons, sizzling geysers, and alpine salt lakes offer hours upon hours of adventurous exploration. Along the same lines, the sunset is no less spectacular in this marvel of northern Chile. In the Atacama Desert, constellations fill the light and dark skies above this stunning desert environment.
Near the small town of San Pedro de Atacama, observatories dot the rocky landscape, and world-class astronomy tours like A Night with the Stars offer year-round outdoor views. Even more important to astrotravelers, the Atacama offers a clear view of the spectacular southern sky, which is largely invisible from countries north of the equator.
Perhaps this explains why almost half of all telescopes are in Chile. Overall, this makes the country one of the most ideal and romantic places for serious stargazing.
2. Uyuni Salt Flat, Bolivia
Bolivia is home to one of the most surreal places in South America. Salar de Uyuni, also known as the world’s largest salt flat, has 4,000 square miles of blindingly white reflective surfaces and a wide horizon perfect for stargazing. In the dry season, this white expanse of bleached land may remind you of a scene from “beyond the wall” from Game of Thrones. However, during the rainy season from December to May, stargazers in Uyuni get an additional advantage: a light layer of water often covers the surface, which becomes a large mirror that perfectly reflects a sky full of stars. . The sensation is that of walking in the space between those celestial bodies.
At night, there is world-class stargazing over the wide horizons. Reputable operators offer private stargazing tours from the towns of Uyuni or Colchani on the edge of the salt flats. They also organize worthwhile stays at the best hotels in the area, including the Hotel Palacio de Sal, a luxury hotel built from blocks of salt!
3. Patagonia (eg El Calafate, Argentina)
With twinkling lights bouncing off snow-capped mountains while also reflecting off sparkling lakes, when the weather is nice and the sky is clear, Patagonia is another amazing place to enjoy the night sky.
Amid the snow-capped Andean peaks of this region of southern Chile and Argentina, cloudless winter skies make it one of the best ways to stargaze on Earth. The jagged mountain peaks with their glaciers stretching skyward are the perfect complement to the southern hemisphere skies that sparkle at night as a myriad of blazing stars illuminate the pure white ice. Although skygazing is hard to beat when the skies are clear, the cold and unpredictable weather means that Patagonia isn’t always a sure bet, but when it’s good… it’s almost unbeatable.
Patagonian destinations like El Calafate, Argentina (a small, traveler-focused town near the edge of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field) offer sky-watching excursions that combine open-air stargazing with a telescope, as well as projections of galaxies, nebulae and stars. Experienced astronomers are there to point out the constellations and their mythology, as well as help with astrophotography and light painting.
In fact, throughout southern Argentina and Chile, the perfect mix of low light pollution levels, high altitudes, and year-round clear skies in Patagonia pave the way for some of the most stunning night skies your eyes will ever witness. .
4. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Although small in size, Ecuador has a staggering diversity: Andean peaks, Amazon jungles, a stunning coastline, and a world-famous archipelago on the mainland. At this last point, we are talking about Galapagos, a chain of volcanic islands that are home to lumbering tortoises, exotic avian life, and otherworldly landscapes, all of which combine to create the most adventurous and romantic vacations.
The islands also exist as a paradise for stargazers. With literally zero light pollution and an equatorial positioning where travelers can see constellations from both the northern and southern hemispheres, the islands are well placed for stargazing, particularly on sparsely inhabited islands like Isla Isabel, Isla Floreana, and Santa Cruz. But for optimal viewing, take a luxury cruise, where the captain will turn off the ship’s lights while you’re at sea.
All yachts on the islands have naturalist guides to help light the way. Stargazing experts say you should try to go at least 5 to 10 miles offshore to minimize light pollution, but 25 miles or more and you’ll get truly dark skies. Try to plan your trip when the moon is not full, then lie back on the deck and feel like you can reach out and touch the stars all around you. Sit back, relax and get ready for the show.
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5. Lake Titicaca, Peru
The mere mention of the country Peru brings to mind the beautiful ruins of Machu Picchu or the arid Nazca desert, home to the mysterious Nazca lines. As he experiences the “Land of Hidden Treasures”, he goes off the beaten track to experience Lake Titicaca, a spiritual center of the ancient Inca civilization.
Peru’s Lake Titicaca is serene, magical, tranquil, and simply filled with Peruvian folklore. Situated more than two miles above sea level, it is the highest navigable freshwater lake in the world, while in places it is surrounded by the Andes Mountains, adding to the stellar views of the southern night sky. .
For an even better vantage point of the Milky Way galaxy, which is almost directly over the big lake, head to one of the man-made floating islands of the Uros (built out of reeds), where light pollution is practically nothing. non-existent and the skies are crystal clear. Feel yourself stumbling over words as the sky explodes into a mind-blowing display of the cosmos.
6. Easter Island, Chile
Rapa Nui, better known as Easter Island, is a treasure trove of cultural intrigue, folklore and fairy tales, outdoor activities, and a completely unique ancient history, making it one of America’s all-time highlights. from the south.
The island is best known for its hundreds of legendary moai statues, which were carved out of massive rocks by the hands of little-known ancient Polynesians. Not only is this volcanic island picturesque, beautiful, and intriguing in its own right, but stargazing here is something to be experienced. In the dead of night, you can travel back in time to the world of Polynesian travelers while learning about the history of Polynesian travel and settlement, navigational techniques, and Rapa Nui archaeoastronomy.
Head to some of the island’s traditional viewing sites to gaze at the night sky on one of the world’s most remote islands and see stars and constellations visible only in the southern hemisphere.
Your guide will point out the stars and constellations of interest to Polynesian navigators, recounting some of the stories and legends that are linked to them, and will explain techniques on how to find certain cardinal points of the traditional Polynesian compass using the design of the night. Darling. Observe the beauty of the star clusters, nebulae, galaxies, stars and planets visible through our high powered telescope before heading to the island’s famous Anakena beach with the option to take spectacular photos of the moai of the sky full of stars in the foreground.
So whether you’re the parents of a budding astronomer or looking for a romantic night out, there’s nothing like spending the night trying to pick out the constellations that grace the skies of South America.
Alfonso Tandazo is President and CEO of Surtrek Tour Operator. Surtrek Tour Operator is a well established company, specializing in custom designed luxury tours in Ecuador, Galapagos and the rest of South America.
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